Conspiracy Panics: Political Rationality and Popular Culture by Jack Z. Bratich

By Jack Z. Bratich

Examines modern anxiousness over the phenomenon of conspiracy theories.

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Its own government [which are] most targeted by conspiracism” (p. 174). But this is more than irony—it returns us to the logic of exaggeration, excess, and simulation at the heart of conspiracy panics. In a twist on Pipes’s assessment of the Americanness of conspiracism, Jodi Dean (2000b) argues that conspiracy thinking was present as a foundational suspicion that produced America as a nation and people. During the revolutionary phase, conspiracy theories were the lingua franca for understanding tyrannical political machinations.

Insinuating themselves’ everywhere” (pp. 254, 247). And why does the simulacra need to be detected and domesticated? The simulacra “places in question the very notation of copy and model” (p. 256). It “harbors a positive power which denies the original and the copy, the model and the reproduction. . The same and similar no longer have an essence except as simulated” (p. 262, italics original). What the simulation does is reveal the sorting procedure itself to be simulated (as an unfounded and unfixed activity).

New motivations (hate speech, resentful backlashes, histories of oppression) 2. new targets (globalization, new surveillance technologies), 3. new kinds of groups (African Americans who believe that AIDS and the crack epidemic are genocidal strategies against them, and militia organizations who fear a New World Order enough to take up arms in defense), and 4. new visibility in popular culture (Hollywood films, TV shows, magazines, websites, books). (Pipes, 1997, p. 17) Conspiracy panic texts that focus on populism often highlight the fact that conspiracism permeates both the Left and the Right.

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